Erin Cowser received copious amounts of LSU-themed children’s books at her daughter’s baby showers, but none featuring the Southeastern Lions.
Cowser obtained her master’s degree in organizational communication at Southeastern Louisiana University and works as the director of Pubic and Governmental Affairs for the university.
The pride she feels toward the school as a former student and a current professional on campus motivated her to the write the first children’s book about Southeastern.
“It killed me that there was nothing for Southeastern. It’s the third-largest university in the state of Louisiana, but if you ask even some of our current students how large our school is, they’re going to tell you it’s a small school,” she said. “They feel like it’s still small because they get personal attention and everybody knows everybody.”
Southeastern has 15,000 students enrolled and more than 65,000 alumni.
In 2013 Southeastern student-athletes brought home five Southland Conference Championships, including the Lions football team.
The book features Roomie, Southeastern’s lion mascot, as he gives readers a campus tour of everything from the shade of Friendship Oak to the seats of Strawberry Stadium.
Cowser’s 5-year-old daughter, Eliza Kate, is also featured in the book.
“It features all the different landmarks, and includes some of the traditions that are unique to Southeastern,” Cowser said. “Nobody else has Strawberry Jubilee, where our students get to eat free strawberry shortcake, or our annual Gumbo Ya Ya event. It’s all the things that add up to the experience of being a student and a Lion fan at Southeastern.”
Aside from wanting to pay tribute to the university, Eliza Kate served as a major inspiration for the book.
“She thinks that she is Roomie’s personal keeper, and whenever friends come into town she wants to go play around the base of Friendship Oak,” said Cowser.
The book is titled “Let’s Lion Up With Roomie!” which is a reference to the phrase “Lion Up” used by Southeastern students and faculty.
It refers to a sense of pride shared by the Lion faithful, and involves an unmistakable hand gesture that originated with the Lions baseball team who made it popular, and has since been embraced by all Lions fans, she said.
Cowser explained part of her pride in Southeastern comes from the family vibe it gives off.
“It comes back to the Southeastern family, but at the same time you’re getting an unparalleled education and you’re among people who truly care about their school. Just knowing I can bring Eliza Kate to tailgating, where she can run around and there will be at least 20 people out there to help me keep an eye on her while she was bounces around with her pompoms and chases Roomie, is great.”
The book has been out for a little over a year and the process has been very enjoyable for Cowser.
“People are still calling me and asking me to do book signings,” said Cowser. “They’re really enjoying the book, but more people want books signed by Eliza Kate than me. It has just been a lot of fun.”
“Let’s Lion Up with Roomie!” is available for purchase at several stores throughout Hammond, including Bayou Booksellers, Bayou Baby, Berrytown Produce, Chaucer’s Pharmacy, the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center gift shop and P.J.’s Coffee (downtown Hammond and University Avenue); and in the Southeastern Bookstore.
Books also can be purchased at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs and the Olive Patch in Covington. Copies may also be ordered from mascotbooks.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and booksamillion.com.